Primary Institutional Dynamics and the Emergence of Regional Governance in Southeast Asia: Constructing Post-Colonial International Societies

  • Kilian Spandler
Part of the Palgrave Studies in International Relations book series (PSIR)


Why do international governance structures in regions with a history of colonization often display contradictions or gaps between formal commitments and actual cooperation? Rather than looking for exogenous causes, this chapter accounts for the purported dysfunctionalities by tracing and contextualizing the contested institutionalization practices of local agents. Drawing on the English School’s distinction between primary and secondary institutions, it sees regional governance structures not simply as the consequence of competing state interests but, more fundamentally, of attempts to translate a complex normative structure into an organizational framework. The emergence of Southeast Asia’s international society illuminates the political nature of these processes: tensions between primary institutions drove the renegotiation of hierarchies and boundaries but also subverted it, resulting in ambiguous governance structures.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kilian Spandler
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GothenburgGothenburgSweden

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